Photo Courtesy of NYPD
Antonia Martinez beams as her daughter’s wheelchair is returned by cops.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Intrepid NYPD investigators recently foiled a theft and returned a custom wheelchair to a Jackson Heights woman and her grateful mom.
Antonia Martinez woke up the day after Christmas to discover that the $5,000 wheelchair her daughter Michelle Molina, 18, relies on to get around had been swiped outside their apartment. Molina suffers from Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Martinez filed a police report and 115th Precinct Neighborhood Coordination Officers Tyler Scala and Bryan Leibold, and Det. Michael Fischer quickly went to work. According to the NYPD, all three investigators were sifting through surveillance footage from the area when they discovered that they actually had the crime on tape.
The officers then received a tip from a good Samaritan, located the chair, and brought it back to Molina. Minera Martinez, 34, was arrested for the crime and charged with third-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and criminal trespass.
“We knew how important this wheelchair was to Michelle, so we had to do whatever we could and as fast as we could to ensure she wasn’t inconvenienced any longer,” Scala said.